Property brokers in the UK are reporting a surge in interest in homes throughout the country following the issuance of a much easier path to citizenship for Hong Kong residents who have British National Overseas passports. The UK government recently made the policy changes to accommodate Hong Kong residents who are thinking of exiting the city after the passing of the controversial National Security law.

Brokers claimed that Hong Kong residents with BNO passports are now looking into potentially buying properties in the UK as second homes as opposed to just being an investment. Asia Bankers Club, a company that specializes in marketing overseas properties to banking professionals, revealed that it had received more than 200 clients interested in buying UK homes over the weekend.

Knight Frank Hong Kong revealed that inquiries from Hong Kong buyers regarding available London Homes have increased by more than 15 percent over the past weeks. The company added that apart from the UK's accelerated path to citizenship, the surge in interest is also partly due to the continued devaluation of the Pound Sterling.  

Before Hong Kong was handed over to China, the UK had issued BNO passports to residents who were born before 1997. Those that had BNO passports were allowed to visit the UK for up to six months. However, the passport holders were not allowed to stay, work or apply for citizenship.

Last month, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced that the country would be changing those rules to allow more than three million BNO passport holders to resettle in the country if they wanted. UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab had stated that under the new rules, BNO passport holders will be allowed to stay in the country for up to five years. After five years, holders can opt to apply for a permanent residency. After 12 months, holders can then apply for British citizenship.

Immigration consultants have also confirmed that some Hong Kong residents have suspended their applications to other countries and are now mainly focused on taking advantage of the UK's offer. Some residents have reportedly begun to seek refinancing for their Hong Kong homes in case they do decide to take advantage of the UK's immigration plan.

Mortgage referral broker StarProp Agency revealed that most Hong Kong owners have managed to acquire around HK$2 million in loans against their homes. However, prices for homes in the UK are much higher, so Hong Kong BNO holders will have to find other ways of coming up with the money to purchase second homes. A typical 30 square meter studio or one-bedroom apartment in London costs around HK$5 million, or roughly $645,000. Prices are lower if the property is located outside the city.